Drinking the social media kool aid

28 06 2010

I was in London last week for the IQPC Marketing Directors meeting discussing all sorts of incredible marketing innovations with people much smarter than me. Of course one of the big discussion points was Social Media, not just how we leverage for our business, our team of marketers across the globe already do a lot of that, but what we really discussed was listening to our communities and making sure we utilize new tools to monitor our activities.

One of the first things I picked up on when I got back (whilst deleting the spam!) was the buzz around Gatorade’s social media activities.

Wow….maybe the high energy sound track helps, or too much Gatorade, but it was great to see how they created a control center for monitoring their social media and online marketing efforts. Most important for me were the 6 areas they monitor:

  1. Monitor online discussions
  2. Monitor sports landscape
  3. Proactive social media outreach
  4. Track media performance
  5. Track brand attributes
  6. Track sports trends and buzz

Better still they clearly listened, check out this slightly related video from Sarah Robb-O’Hagan, CMO for Gatorade. Sarah gives a passionate run down of how the company has listened and then reacted!

Unfortunately I don’t fall into the “athlete” demographic, chasing kids and stressing about marketing ROI doesn’t really count! My sports beverage intake is more coffee for prime, coffee for performance, and wine for recovery! But I love how they have defined their buyer personas, and deeply used that knowledge to tailor their products, branding and the messaging. It’s more than just marketing…

Mashable seems to have the best review of the activities here: http://mashable.com/2010/06/15/gatorade-social-media-mission-control/, but essentially it’s one thing to use new cool tools to listen to your audience, but another thing altogether to react! We should all grow bigger ears, but we need to make sure we act on the information!

6 tips on Twitter from HBR

14 06 2010

It took me a while to get my head around Twitter, I admit it. I am still not sure I fully “get it” but you can’t argue with the potential. It started to make more sense once I installed Tweetdeck. To me Twitter is like a torrent of information, it would be like walking into the biggest cocktail party you’ve ever been to and being able to hear pretty much every conversation, all at once.

There are lots of tips out there to try to help make sense of it, they seem to pop up every day, but this month’s HBR, often a voice of reason in the social media rhetoric, caught my attention. The article had 6 Twitter tips taken from a case study tracking the conversation around the launch of iPad which apparently generated 547,898 tweets during its launch weekend. It also had a very cool graphic representation of the conversations or tweet stream, tracking the frequency of words in the tweets over time.

I will attempt to match the tips to examples from some conferences:

1. Learn about the competitive landscape: People who tweet about your event will definitely be tweeting about other events, so monitoring your influencers can reveal a lot about your market position.

2. Look for unexpected themes: Monitor the stream for persistent words about your events; you may uncover new influencers, potential new partners or even a new audience for your conference. For producers this could be very valuable during the research phase, uncovering new themes and measuring the importance of existing challenges.

3. Dip deeper into the stream: Use caution when interpreting this data. Ultimately people are boiling conversations down to 140 characters, which can be re-tweeted over and over again, leading to unusually high frequency. What becomes popular may-delete via RT may not accurately reflect what is being said about your event.

4. Look for user experiences: If you get people tweeting on site at the event, you can use that to draw out more attention for the event and your brand, establishing your # tag for future events and creating buzz. It could help prioritize your conference agendas, help with innovative formats, provide valuable feedback on the venue, and help tailor your message for the next event.

5. Learn why negative words are coming up: It won’t all be positive, most likely the air con is on too cold, or the audio is poor, or it turns out your venue doesn’t have a chef that can cook…. We’ve all been there. If Twitter is being used by your audience, you need to be listening, and adjust to the most common complaints.

6. Learn about conversation dominators:  If keywords start to dominate the conversation something may have changed that’s worth sitting up and taking notice of. Conferences are often based on the latest trends and one of Twitter’s key applications is tracking that conversation. See what people are sharing or re-tweeting and see if you need to adjust your strategy.

Simple visualization tools mentioned previously in this post, will also help understand and analysis the Twitter stream. But Twitter is an amazing torrent of information and once you stick you toe in, it can become addictive. Like all good things, moderation is required and it may only apply to certain events, but it presents a tremendous research tool and communication channel to improve your conference.

Content Marketing – The only marketing?

7 06 2010

As a company IQPC is in the business of sharing highly practical, case study driven information created by leading business executives at the cutting edge of their industries. As part of that service we also provide face to face networking opportunities and allow sponsors some access to the interaction.  I like to think of IQPC as an information intermediary, it’s just that our chosen form of delivery to date has been conferences, seminars and exhibitions. But our recent launch of online industry communities has changed that and planted us firmly in the content marketing camp.

It’s a natural fit for our business, we capture so much first person research during the development of the event, and have so much content at our events, we simply need to find effective ways to capture and leverage it to grow our niche communities. We charge a premium for the live events, that’s the head of the tail, where all the immediate, urgent value is, but what is live content worth tomorrow or the next day….how can it help add more value and build our brand?  

There’s been a lot written about content marketing, and most of it under lots of different names, but I like this definition from www.copyblogger.com best:

Content Marketing is a broad term that relates to creating and freely sharing informative content as a means of converting prospects into customers and customers into repeat buyers.

Whilst it appears simple, like the rest of this business the devil is in the detail. Some marketers get confused on what they can and can’t do, what is acceptable and what is not, what is valuable and what is not. So here are my tenets of content marketing:

You must add value – Your community should be better off for spending the time it took to read, listen to or devour your content.

You must be authentic – Don’t hide behind the content; let the value of the content speak for itself.  

You must be unique – There’s little to no point in re-using existing content unless you are providing a unique spin or syndication service, helping great content spread is fine, if it adds value.

You must be relevant –It must highly relevant to the target audience, resonate with their world view and be of immediate help.

You must be aligned – The content must be very much aligned to the problems the event is looking to solve or the skills it is looking to develop.  This alignment is critical if you hope to convert the content users from strangers to customers.

You must leverage your content – A small snippet or introduction or insight to the content must be promoted via your partners, social media sites and well written press releases. This will ensure you have maximized your effort beyond your internal database.

You must be remarkable – You don’t have to win the Pulitzer Prize but you do want people to remark, you want them to forward your content.

And it’s OK to sell, not in the content, but it should be implicit what the customer or prospective customer is getting into, you should not hide behind the content. If you are going to call the prospect, they need to remember that you provided them with that valuable piece of content and that should lead the way to a more valuable conversation.  If you are going to go to all that trouble to create valuable, unique, relevant and remarkable content you want the association or alignment of the content and your brand to be implicit, loud and clear, no confusion.

I strongly believe that content marketing is the only type of marketing we have left, but it must be aligned with the overall campaign message and goals, we all have to pay the bills. Your content marketing strategy must be integrated into your entire marketing plan; it must feature in every drop, in every campaign online and offline, and be visibly associated with your brand. Most importantly online, you must focus on the content, as this will help pull people in via search, social media and your online partners. If you succeed in capturing their attention you must know what to do to convert that attention so you also need to make sure the sales channel is fully briefed and understands the value of content and where they can take the conversation.

By providing this valuable content you are trying to shift brand perception beyond the actual day of your event, add value and build your advocacy ladder, helping customers find you.

A picture is worth a thousand words

2 06 2010

HubSpot recently created this great post on 22 social media diagrams.

The guy’s over at www.starshot.com also did a great post on visualization. Which reminded me of this crazy site on Nonsensical Infographics, and my favorite visual thesaurus by Thinkmap. I’m a visual type of person.

All of which lead me to this very cool tool from Wordle (Thanks Wordle.net) to visualize my blog:

The above image shows in a glance where I have been and where I need to go with this blog. It’s a powerful image for me, even though it’s  stuffed with words. It tells me where my focus has been topic wise, and leads me to question if I am focusing on the right things. It’s also great tool for quickly checking if you have your keywords right on a website. I love it.

All of this just shows the power of images, I don’t think we use them enough!

Most conference brochures or event websites often do a poor job of using images. Conferences are all about that physical contact, the fast paced interaction between people, buyers, sellers and thought leaders sharing ideas and doing business, and an image is the perfect way to express it. Even from an agenda point of view, many conferences struggle to clearly convey the key focus of the event, what better way to do this than tag cloud?